By Marie Moran

Have you ever considered how much being in a leadership role is like dancing?  Sometimes you’re being asked to shape up a new team, which might feel like doing a German March.  At other times, you are Tangoing with new ideas to be innovative.  Then there are those times when a Quick Step is required to keep up with your competitors.  Sometimes you face situations where you need to be formal and structured, which is true with Smooth Ballroom dances.  At other times, it’s up to be informal and spontaneous with your team, as though you are doing some modern moves to stay upbeat and motivated!

Being a great leader also requires you to have a sense of rhythm and understand life’s changing tempos.   If you push, push, push all the time, your followers will eventually get worn out!   Everyone does require recharge time.  On the other hand, we know in today’s business world that you can’t sit back and rest on your laurels.  We as leaders do set the tempo for our teams.  Personally, I’ve found that when I’m stepping it up and being quite productive, my team at MMCo feels that vibe and know they have to step it up as well.  If I slow down my pace, either consciously or not, they’ll tend to follow my lead and take their To Do Lists a bit slower.

There’s another whole dimension of dance that reminds me of leadership.  Years ago, I attended the University of Wisconsin and studied modern dance.  I had a wonderful instructor who impressed upon me how important it was to have all three characteristics well developed if you intend to be a professional dancer:  strength, flexibility, and endurance.  “You must have all three to be great,” she reminded her students often.

Now isn’t that also true in leadership?  In some situations, you need to display strength and steadfastness, presenting your ideas with unswerving courage and conviction.  At other times, it’s important to recognize when to bend a bit, or simply let something go.  And what leader in today’s complex world doesn’t require endurance?  That’s the character quality of resiliency and staying power required to get through things that are just going to take some time – those situations that you can’t ignore or run away from.  Endurance is also required to hang in there with new ideas that are going to take some time to launch.  Many people have the passion and courage to begin something, but don’t have the staying power to carry it through over time as obstacles arise.  Leaders today need to have all of these qualities!

Now, based on this awareness, I recently asked myself these questions:

  • For me to have a joyful day today, which of these leadership qualities will be required – strength, flexibility or endurance?
  • What leadership dance am I being asked to do right now, in this situation or this moment?
  • How will I know that my dance and tempo are correct and “in the flow”?
  • What feedback does life give me on my choices?  (I often look to the results of my choices to find these answers.) 

Have a little fun and play with this idea.  We’d love to hear your thoughts about your own “leadership dance” at work and in life!

© 2017 Marie Moran